As summer ends, so The Great British Bake Off begins. The show runs from late August until late October, and eases you into the oncoming shit weather with the gentleness of a plump hotel bed. It is a warm, woolly glove of a programme – protective, wholesome, in no way sexy – largely because it's completely predictable.
You know there will be some cack-handed innuendos, you know someone will bake something phallic that becomes a meme, you know Paul Hollywood will be a desperate prick on Bread Week. You also know the characters of Bake Off, the archetypes: the loveable old one, the fun mum, the weird male student. And therefore you know who’s going to win – or at least I do.
Step into my office…. or should I say….. my tent? Haha :)
The big "talking point" of this year's cast of bakers is that they are the youngest lot ever, which I am sad about, because the old people on the show are invariably the most entertaining; we will never forget u, Val. More specifically, there are a number of young men.
This is: a) good, because of something about toxic masculinity, but b) bad, because unfortunately it is a little bit difficult to tell them apart. From what I can glean, Jamie, aged 20, is The Cool One (long sleeve top, bleached hair, looks like he knows what Brockhampton is), but unfortunately being Cool and being good at baking are diametrically opposed, so I do not see him faring well.
PREDICTION: Out during Biscuit Week; makes some ginger nuts that are, by his own admission, "not peng" :(
Henry's another Young Man on this year's show – he is also 20, and a student, and he says he tries his creations out on his uni housemates. Presumably, "creations" means "pizza" and "brownies where the bottom has burned and gone all on the only fucking oven tray we've got you absolute bellend".
PREDICTION: Looks like a serious guy, in fairness. I'm saying: dark horse, keeps his head down, solid cinnamon buns, comes fourth.
Alice is a geography teacher, which, may God and his angels bless her, of course she is. She has a bit of competitive Horse Girl Energy about her too, which I feel will stand her in good stead for the contest.
PREDICTION: Gets to the final, but her rum and raisin showstopper does not quite do the business; absolutely makes a "netball-themed" bake at some point.
Have you ever seen an item of clothing more Bake Off than this knitted tank top? Helena is exactly where she should be right now. Makes me feel quite Eat, Pray, Love, honestly.
PREDICTION: With knits like this she could truly go all the way to the end.
Here, we come to the Lovely Mum caucus. From this image I am going to say that Michelle feels like an ocean of calm; like, if at any point she realised her Belgian buns were burning, she would – instead of performing the traditional Bake Off reaction to this phenomenon, which is to run around the tent as though you are on fire, before crumpling, lifeless, into the arms of Sandi Toksvig – simply remove them from the oven and just methodically start again. This is a good quality to have because quite honestly they do get a bit histrionic on this sometimes.
PREDICTION: Gets to about Week Five or Six, wins a Technical, is very, very good at modelling farm animals out of fondant.
Now, I do not mean to be rude, but what is it that Steph has built here in this photo? What is she up to? This little tower? You insult me, Steph, with this tiny tower of cake. I come to my cake baking programme expecting to be blown off my sofa by gorgeous and phenomenal bakes. I cannot believe the great GBBO standards are slipping. Wow. Complaining to OFCOM.
PREDICTION: Out in the first week if this shoddy work is anything to go by!
(Sorry, Steph, I'm sure you are actually really good, babe – it just looked funny)
Need I say anything? Cult status already. I cannot wait for him to make a fucking massive cake about his wife.
PREDICTION: The People's Winner, obviously, but in terms of the actual competition he probably fucks it on Vegan Week.
From this photo I imagine that Priya will become this year's Fashion One, known for her fun shirts. Around Week Four (Desserts Week, where she makes something Wes Anderson-looking) Sunday Times Style will do a little one-page splash about how to get her put-together-but-relaxed blouse looks, with suggestions of lookalike tops from & Other Stories.
PREDICTION: Priya doesn't win (nothing personal, I just have a very strong feeling about who will win – which I will come to in due course – and I'm on my period at the minute, so feeling veeeery connected to the moon and therefore probably worth taking seriously x), but judging by this effortlessly cute photo alone I would probably follow an Instagram page where she makes sumptuous looking pastries and poses with them while wearing garments from LF Markey.
Look at those glasses. There is no fucking way we're escaping this season without my man here delivering a Brutalism-themed bake.
PREDICTION: Was the Brutalism joke not good enough for you.
Very sincerely, one of the reasons I like watching Bake Off is because I am absolutely useless at making anything with my hands, so it is nice to see people who are so talented at something so utterly alien to me and my stubby little paws. As Amelia is a fashion designer, I am going to assume that she will be the best at making things look pretty, which in turn is enough for my aesthetically-challenged brain to Stan.
PREDICTION: Kicked off on Cake Week because she didn't finish her extremely intricate and conceptual muffin pyramid on time.
Rosie's job is caring for sick animals (making her another member of the Lovely Mum lobby), and as such I will not hear a bad word against her. She has the vibe of being good at bread, doesn't she? Nice and patient.
PREDICTION: Smashes the granny out of Bread Week, but I believe this is where she will peak, as she has too kind a face to really have the competitive edge that the UK's most prestigious baking show requires (everyone who goes on it says Bake Off is "like a family uwu", but have you ever clocked the steel in the contestants' eyes when someone else gets a handshake off Paul?)
Dan says he's been applying to be on the show for a number of years, and while I am pleased that he's finally made it, I worry that he may be cursed by a compulsion to try slightly too hard – like, they ask for two types of pastry but he makes four to be clever, and then one of them burns in the oven while he's doing the filling for the others, and oh my fucking god the smell and what the fuck is that? Is that a flame? Is that a fire? IS THE TENT ON FIRE OH GOD—
PREDICTION: Makes it a few weeks in but fumbles the ball on Spice Week, when he tries to prove himself by making an Indian-Italian fusion crisp bread.
This man is going to win Bake Off. He just has the look of a GBBO winner; that ineffable, golden, wordless thing. You can see him on the front of a cookbook, can't you? He was fucking born for it.
PREDICTION: He'll be on Saturday Kitchen with Sarah Lancashire by November, mark my words.